Branding is essentially, aligning your company’s internal activities with what it produces for the outside world. It’s not a communications strategy, but rather a business strategy; a long term, sustainable product or service that is consistent, clear, and delivers time and again.
Whether it’s with clients embarking on a new campaign or on your own trying to define your personal brand, the term “branding” seems to be the popular buzzword these days. “Branding” is often misunderstood and is frequently misused. Yet, a business’s brand represents the company’s reputation externally and reflects how employees feel about the company internally.
Currently, we are in a climate where small and medium-sized enterprises are being squeezed and forced to create a clear point of difference. Small businesses especially, need to find a way to compete.
The following are 7 old-school ways to build your brand rep in your community.
1. In a Nutshell
Ask yourself what you want the customer to feel when interacting with your business. Then, find one word or phrase that most accurately sums up what you stand for.
Continue on to your website, your offices, and other extensions of your business and ensure that they convey a similar theme. Think of ways to conjure up that feeling in customers without saying it explicitly.
Once you determine your strategy, run it through all of your activity including the logo, tone of voice, and dress code. Remember that dissatisfaction is what drives customers. Develop and communicate a relevant brand promise and deliver.
2. Get it right the First Time
Deliver on your promises. Competitive markets have and will always punish companies that are unreliable.
A relationship of trust is an integral part of growing a strong brand. Reaching the point where customers trust you allows clients to feel at ease, even if you do get it wrong on occasion.
Any advertising expense spent in a small business is better focused towards “performance marketing.” Focus on delivering an augmented product that is continuously improving.
3. Build from Within
All big business brand icons have distinctive company cultures or “value systems” that give the brands definition. A company brand should permeate the organization and drive decisions.
Involve your employees in building the brand from Day 1. Allowing them to help shape the values makes it easier to convey them to customers. Spend time on developing a message that resonates throughout your staff.
Remain flexible enough to occasionally evaluate and tweak your brand message’s effectiveness and make sure to communicate it internally. Beware of becoming too formal or risk losing engagement. The best way to get customers to trust you is to start trusting your employees.
4. Consistency is Key
Be absolutely transparent to your audience about your brand values from the outset. Your products and services are likely to evolve as you grow, but your brand values should remain consistent.
Keep in mind that for many, your marketing message is the first impression they will have of your company. Resist the urge to tweak established values.
5. Customers Contact
To some extent, your brand takes care of itself if your product is good. On the other hand, involving customers in product development has become somewhat of a trend that provides customers with a sense of co-creating products.
Customers love to feel close to the creative process, and you can build reciprocal respect, by featuring them as case studies.
6. Social Media
Stay on top of what’s out there to build a brand. Social media is just as important as a communications tactic and something that could be applied internally.
It’s a great strategy for small businesses to provide customer service and support, while getting their name in front of people.
7. Create a Community
Social media has hastened an importance of community in brand building by sharing knowledge and extending the network online. It’s important that information about the business doesn’t just come from the marketing division.
Whatever your means of communicating, show your personality. Focus on where your customers are, be that on YouTube, eBay, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, but use each medium appropriately.
Differentiate yourself by what you stand for and let the personality and values formulate organically. Innovate beyond the familiar and keep these 7 old-school tips in mind when developing a brand rep in your community.